In a story about the gay rights protest in Washington DC from last evening's Nightly News, John Harwood reported on comments made by an anonymous White House Official (ahem Rahm) regarding on a "serious problem the President is having with an important part of his base" who aren't happy that some of the campaign pledges Obama has made haven't been met fulfilled yet.
Remember, they were discussing the gay rights protests and the that "important part of his base."
They conversation then morphed into talk about the "left as a whole" when Harwood reported:
"...Barack Obama is doing well with 90% or more of Democrats so the White House views this opposition as really part of the "internet left fringe" Lester. And for a sign of how seriously the White House does or doesn't take this opposition one adviser told me today those bloggers need to take off their pajamas get dressed and realize that governing a closely divided country is complicated and difficult."
Gay right protesters outside the White House in D.C., and "important part of his base," became the part of the 10% from the "left as a whole" who the White House considers part of the "internet left fringe" of bloggers who "need to take off their pajamas."
There are people from the online community who insist that these comment weren't meant towards members of the gay community, or the actual protesters, upset that the President hasn't followed through on any of his gay rights promises (DADT, etc.).
Here is the full transcript via FDL:
LESTER HOLT: John what we saw in that protest today, was it simply frustration or does it represent a serious problem the President is having with an important part of his base?
JOHN HARWOOD: As a practical matter Lester I don't think it's a serious problem. we've seen and certainly Bill Clinton learned that they Democratic President can get punished by the mainstream of the electorate for being too aggressive on social issues so for now I think the administration feels that if they take care of the big issues - health care, energy, the economy - he's going to be just fine with this group.
HOLT: But in general when you look at the left as a whole, have there been conversations about some things they thought would have been done but haven't?
HARWOOD: Sure but If you look at the polling, Barack Obama is doing well with 90% or more of Democrats so the White House views this opposition as really part of the "internet left fringe" Lester. And for a sign of how seriously the White House does or doesn't take this opposition one adviser told me today those bloggers need to take off their pajamas get dressed and realize that governing a closely divided country is complicated and difficult.
I am NOT one of them.
Here's what America Blog's John Aravosis thinks about all this. He's not one of them either:
So the gay community, and its concerns about President Obama's inaction, and backtracking, on DADT and DOMA, are now, according to President Obama's White House, part of a larger "fringe" that acts like small children who play in their pajamas and need to grow up. (And a note to our readers: The White House just included all of you in that loony "left fringe.")
I wonder how the Human Rights Campaign is going to explain how the White House just knifed our community less than 24 hours after he went to their dinner and claimed he was our friend.
And let me just add that if we're all insignificant children who don't understand politics, and who the White House doesn't worry about, then why did a White House official feel the need to lash out at us via the NBC Nightly news?
I'm not feeling very insignificant at the moment, are you?
UPDATE: You wouldn't believe some of the excuses flying around on FB and Twitter saying "oh, you shouldn't pay attention to anon sources" or "the WH wouldn't say that" or that this statement somehow is NBC reporter John Harwood making the sh*t up, or that "he didn't say LGBT bloggers" (ok, that one is just lame -- I said in the headline "part of pajama-clad 'Internet fringe'" - AND the reporter's filing a report about NEM, for god's sake, lolol).
Well, sitting in this chair, SOMEONE needs to take responsibility for the statement because it is someone's POV, one believed to be widely held by insiders about progressive bloggers, but never articulated so boldly.
The remarks are an insult to people like me (and readers), who know how complicated governing and legislating are, and many of us do this from a perspective of 1) being in a state where waiting DOES matter and, in my case 2) I blog and work a full time job, at the expense of my own health, not to be a muckraker, but to make a difference. If someone has a different perspective and dismisses me outright, I do have a right to be angry and demand someone own their statement. When I say something it's straight up, you mean to tell me no one has the stones to own their opinions up there? That's pathetic. Anonymous or not, the statement's out there now for all to see.
If the administration wasn't in the habit of giving anonymous quotes on a daily basis that might be fair, but reporters regularly complain that they show up for ON the record briefings at the White House only to be told that it's on background. It's a regular habit so you can't just say that the ones you don't like aren't legitimate. They need to stop the practice completely or take responsibility for the ones that get out there that backlash on them. There's a reason the person didn't give their name.
Harwood said that "the White House views this opposition as really part of the 'internet left fringe'" so yes, you're right, he did make the connection - based on what he says he was told. By an aide in the White House, knowing he was going on the national news momentarily to talk about the march.
The appropriate thing for the White House to do at this point is free Harwood up to reveal his source. Because if they just deny that the statement was accurate without doing so, it'll always be trapped in that nether region of journalistic privilege. And the "anonymous source" will have achieved their desired objective of getting it out there without having to wear it.
And if Harwood is lying, he should have to own that, too. But the only way we'll know for sure is if they free him up to reveal the source and the source contradicts him on the record.
From DKos' Deep Harm:
Dear Mr. President: Fire this advisorUPDATE V:
First, the advice provided to you unfairly dismisses as trivial the concerns of gay Americans who have legitimate concerns and a right to assemble in public to call for relief.
Second, this administration owes a great deal to bloggers, who played an important role in getting President Obama elected and could play a key role in the NEXT election.
Third, it fails to recognize that blogging is a communications tool, not a badge of membership.
Finally, the advisor expresses an alarming ignorance about the nature of those who blog. Today's bloggers include experts in science, economics, public policy, international relations, and computer science. They are parents, journalists, artists, healthcare workers, and politicians (even presidents!). Their political views cover the entire spectrum from right to left, from niche groups to powerful voter blocks. In short, bloggers are the American people. All that distinguishes this group from voters in past decades is that now Americans finally have the means to publish their thoughts without interference by mass media gatekeepers, the so-called "public watchdogs" that failed to bark when a corrupt administration led this country into a needless war.
Andrew Sullivan, who doesn't' seems as miffed about the apparent link of these anonymous comments to the gay community as much as he is upset over the disparaging of the blogger community and youth of this country who are fighting for civil right and who helped get Obama elected:
...What is "left" about civil marriage? It's neither right nor left, it's about love and commitment and responsibility for one another. Do only leftists get married? Please. We are not on the left or the right; we are bang in the middle of your families and your country and we refuse to be treated as second class human beings any more.UPDATE VI:
This lame attempt to dismiss a genuine and impassioned argument for equality from a new generation is par for the Emanuel course. But it remains the old politics that Obama ran against not for. What the White House would be better off doing is congratulating these young marchers and protestors for taking Obama seriously and at his word and holding him accountable. That's called democracy in action.
Or when he said "we are the ones we've been waiting for," did he actually mean just him?
For being part of the "Internet Left Fringe," the MSM seems to be relying more & more on what they think. Maybe that's why the White House felt the need to knock bloggers down? Could it be that we're becoming too much of a kink in their plans to do things their way & in their time regardless of what they promise over & over to their various supporters and they don't like being called on it? Hmmmm.
UPDATE VII - DENIAL VERSION:
Denial. Denial. Denial.
Denial from the White House, as expected, in the form of an email from Dan Pfeiffer to Greg Sargent:
Denial from Greg Sargent (as to how seriously the anonymous comment should be taken by the left):
“That sentiment does not reflect White House thinking at all, we’ve held easily a dozen calls with the progressive online community because we believe the online communities can often keep the focus on how policy will affect the American people rather than just the political back-and-forth.”
Does it ever occur to blogger like Greg Sargent that the White House's "outreach" efforts aren't necessarily supportive in nature but is instead, toe maintain some control or worse, drive a wedge between those on the ground and those wanting to be invited to dinner at the White House!?
Whatever you think of the White House’s record on gay rights issues or the respect it does or doesn’t have for the blogosphere, paraphrased second-hand claims from a single anonymous adviser don’t really seem like grounds for sweeping conclusions about the White House’s alleged disdain for the online community.
You can debate whether the White House has been solicitious enough towards the issues that matter to the online world. But it seems clear by White House actions — the hiring of Internet outreach staff, the frequent blogger conference calls, the elevation of Huffington Post at press conferences — that the White House sees the blogosphere as playing a valuable role of sorts.
Nah, that would mean people like him are being played for fools.
And, I'm sure there be another bit of denial from the like of HRC's Joe Solmonese at some point.
In other news on this latest attack on the base of the party, Glenn Greenwald isn't one of those who is suprised by this anonymous comment:
Just this weekend, a "top gay Democrat close to Obama" was granted anonymity by Politico to dismiss administration critics on gay issues as "naive." Just six weeks ago, an equally cowardly "senior White House adviser" hiding behind anonymity told told The Washington Post that the only people who cared about the public option in health care were "the left of the left" -- those same fringe, irrational extremists. In June, an anonymous "friend of John Brennan's" told Jane Mayer in The New Yorker that the people who prevented Brennan's nomination as CIA Director (because of his support for some of the most radical Bush Terrorism policies) were nothing more than "a few Cheeto-eating people in the basement working in their underwear who write blogs." Last year, "Democrats on the Hill" anonymously dismissed opposition to telecom immunity and warrantless eavesdropping as nothing more than a fringe issue being exploited by Chris Dodd for his presidential campaign, and then anonymously warned Dodd to abandon his left-wing obstructionism if he wanted to resume good standing in the Democratic caucus. Can anyone miss the pattern?
The only thing remarkable about the comments Harwood passed on is that anyone would be surprised by them. In that regard, the furor over Obama's complete inaction on gay issues vividly illustrates the same elements that shape political controversies in virtually every other area -- from war to civil liberties to health care and beyond:
- Pretty words and inspiring pageantry from the President, accompanied by endless inaction or contradictory policies;
- Hordes of people who believe in their heart of hearts that the administration is led by such a nice, just and likable man that it couldn't possibly be guilty of anything worse than a little benign political calculation (just as the evangelical, Texas-swaggering Bush did for Red State loyalists, the urbane, charming and highly intelligent Obama possesses all the cultural markers of a good and decent person for Blue State loyalists, and thus simply can't be capable of anything malicious or destructive -- there's a reason Bill Maher tried to remind liberals: "He's your president, not your boyfriend");
- Organizations (exemplified by the truly dreadful HRC) that suck funding out of progressives and serve as liberal validators of administration conduct whose overaching devotion is to the Democratic Party and the administration rather than the causes they claim to promote (fortunately, civil liberties groups are the exception, as they have remained steadfast, unapologetic, independent and principled in harshly criticizing Obama); and,
- Deeply personalized scorn directed at those who try to hold Democrats and the Obama administration accountable -- since they're the ones who control all branches of government with huge majorities -- rather than devote all their energies to the cheap and easy partisan task of ridiculing and blaming a marginalized, impotent conservative movement which is a small minority and currently wields no power in Washington.
Andrew Sullivan reacts to the "denial" and points out some polling data the makes what the white house attempted to do by demeaning bloggers. the left, activists (gay or otherwise) was not just outrageous to, but asinine as a tactic (ahem Rahm):
As for a "closely divided" country, here is the latest Gallup polling data on gays in the military:
Americans are six percentage points more likely than they were four years ago to favor allowing openly gay men and lesbian women to serve in the military, 69% to 63%. While liberals and Democrats remain the most supportive, the biggest increase in support has been among conservatives and weekly churchgoers -- up 12 and 11 percentage points, respectively.
60 percent of weekly church-goers are more against discrimination against gay servicemembers than Joe Solmonese, head of the largest gay rights group. This White House is to the right of 58 percent of self-described conservatives and to the right of 69 percent of the population as a whole. Obama's base in refusing to end "Don't Ask Don't Tell" is now the religious right, and even more and more of them oppose the policy. Meanwhile, the actual generation that elected him, that built an Internet movement that was critical to his success, is dismissed in this cowardly fashion by someone who lives in 1993 for ever.
This is the Clinton Syndrome. Never again. End the ban now.
UPDATE VIII - DENIAL VERSION (CON'T):
Almost forgot, here's
Well, if Dan Pfeiffer at the White House is going to suggest that NBC's John Harwood is a liar, then I think the White House needs to give John Harwood permission to reveal his source [...]
[...] Bloggers are the only key members of the Democratic noise machine who have been shunned by the president. He met with liberal talk radio, with the partisan pundits on TV (Rachel and Keith), and even invited a conservative blogger (Andrew Sullivan) and conservative writer/activists Bill Kristol and David Brooks. But no such meeting has ever been scheduled with the liberal political blogs.
There is a pattern of disdain for, and distrust of, the blogs that started with the Obama campaign two years ago, and now has extended into the Obama White House. Privately, both the campaign and the White House have been happy to ask the Netroots for help when the going gets tough (Joe and I alone, via this blog, raised $50,000 for Barack Obama - and I suspect Jane and Markos and Duncan and others have raised a lot more than that). And in spite of our differences with Barack Obama, the Netroots have been happy to help the President when called upon. But publicly, Team Obama keeps us, like much of the core Democratic constituencies, at arm's length.